Blog / What is a CDN and what is it for?

What is a CDN and what is it for?

by SW Team

What is a CDN and what is it for?

CDN is a common term when talking about our web hosting and web content resolution. In this article we will proceed to explain what this particular term means, what it consists of, and how it works.

The term CDN comes from the acronym “Content Delivery Network”.

A CDN is a set of servers distributed in various geographical locations around the world, designed to facilitate the rapid delivery of the content of a website. It is also known as a content delivery network.

When a user connects to a website, the time it takes for content to load on the screen is influenced by the physical distance between the user and the server hosting the site. A network of globally distributed data centers that, in addition to reducing bandwidth consumption, improves the speed at which web page content is delivered to users, no matter where they are in relation to the main server.

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What makes up a CDN?

A content delivery network is made up of an origin server and multiple perimeter servers distributed globally, so it is essential to understand the distinction between these types of servers.

An origin server is the one that hosts the primary and original version of a website's files.

On the other hand, a perimeter server or CDN is a computer capable of caching copies of web content obtained from an origin server.

How does a CDN work?

When a user accesses a website that uses a CDN, his browser, instead of connecting directly against the origin server, connects to and requests the site content from one of the perimeter servers. Typically, this server is the one closest to the end user to minimize latency. Distributing the traffic among multiple cache servers helps to avoid server overload.

The perimeter server then redirects the request to the origin server. Once it obtains the data from the origin server, the perimeter server delivers it to the end user and caches copies of the files locally.

This configuration allows the perimeter server to handle future requests using the cached files, without the need to re-fetch the data from the origin server. Even if the origin server is unavailable, content stored on the perimeter network can still be delivered to the end user.

What are the advantages of using CDNs?

As we have mentioned in the previous points, there are multiple advantages to using CDNs that positively influence both web performance and user experience.

The following are the most characteristic advantages:

Reduce bandwidth consumption

A content delivery network employs optimization strategies such as caching, which consists of storing static files in temporary storage distributed across multiple computers for faster access. Because the query no longer needs to reach the original server repeatedly, these practices help reduce overall server load and bandwidth consumption.

Increase overall speed and performance

One of the biggest contributors to high bounce rates is latency, which is the delay between a user connecting to a site and the web page content appearing on the screen.

Thanks to the closer proximity of perimeter servers compared to the origin server, many of these problems can be solved or greatly reduced through the use of an effective content delivery networ.

Improve website security

When all data transfer is done from a single web server, the chances of being exposed to malicious events such as DDoS attacks and other vulnerabilities increase.

Using filters and distributing queries across multiple locations helps mitigate these traffic bursts. This can be achieved because CDNs divert web traffic from the original server to proxy servers, making the primary source virtually invisible.

They also continuously update SSL/TLS certificates to protect information transfers through authentication and data encryption. These certificates ensure that data security protocols are followed by allowing only the intended recipient to access and view the information.

Optimize content delivery and availability

Heavy traffic loads and hardware failures can cause downtime that most websites cannot afford. Because the traffic capacity of a CDN exceeds that of the origin servers, using a CDN can help avoid disruptions to the normal operation of the website, ensuring that it remains online and able to deliver content at all times.

By distributing traffic among several CDN servers, the load on the central network infrastructure is relieved. This system also ensures that, should some servers experience an outage, people can still access the website, as other running servers will handle the network traffic.

Conclusion

As we have explained throughout this article, if we want our services to maintain high availability, while ensuring the security of our content, having a reliable content delivery network is an investment that is well worth it.

From SW Hosting, we have an integrated function in our hostings that allow you to automatically activate the Cloudflare CDN, today one of the most reliable and well known content distribution networks in the world. If you want to check how to activate this service in your SW Hosting hosting, we recommend you to check the manual we attach below.

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